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ed all his pre-conceived notions, so as to make him MARVEL; and having, in a very clear, and plain manner, ex. plained the fact by a lucid, and particular description, which Nicodemus admitted, as proven by the miracles which he wrought, viz. that he was a teacher come from God, he proceeded, under the authority of his divine credentials, to instruct him, in the true character which he sus. tained. His observations to Nicodemus are, (BEING A TEACHER COME FROM GOD) that "no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of mian which is in heaven. And as Moses” (here he discloses his priestly character, by his teaching) "lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth m him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believe eth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world THROUGH HIM might be saved." The new birth contained in the expression, "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” is of the same meaning with faith in Jesus Christ. Seeing the kingdom of God consists in the perception of the mind, (not by corporeal light, but by the light of God's word,) of the kingdom or reign of grace through the Redeemer. By the word believed the mind sees things which are not seen. This is the vision of faith. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. 1 John 5. 1. How is this belief to be effected? By the teachings of God's Spirit, and the evidence of miracles; every word that Christ spoke was the word of God. Deut. 18. 18. John 17. 8. 14.; and every miracle he wrought was by the Holy Ghost. “If I bear witness of myself,” said our Lord)“my witness is not true. John 5. 31. I receive not testimony from man. ibid 34. I have a greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself which hath sent me hath borne witness of me. ibid 36. 37. Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, be
cause I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works
my Father believe me not-- but if I do, though you believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know, and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him. John 10. 36
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. John 15. 22. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin. ibid 24. That ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick man of the palsey) I say unto thee, arise and take up thy couch and go unto thine house. And immediately he rose up before them and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and glorified Gud, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to-day. Luke 5. 24-26. Jesus answered them and said," (they who had, with the rest of the five thousand, eaten of the five loaves, and two fishes, and were filled,)“Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek mé; not because ye saw the MIRACLES,” (110t by reason of my divine credentials) “but because ye did eat of the loavés and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for him hath God the Father sealed. Then, said they, what shall we do that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said, This is the work of God that ye believe (by the miracles which he wrought) on him whom he hath sent. John 6. 26-29. Jesus said unto them, I anı the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. ibid 35."
So far from the miracles which Christ wrought not be. ing the exclusive evidence by which his WORDS are to be believed, and his character rightly apprehended, THE SIN AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST consists in rejecting the truth supported by such testimony. So true is the declaration of the Spirit of God by John, that "many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but THESE ARE WRITTEN, (all those which he had enumerated) that ye MIGHT BELIEVE thet Jesus is the Christ the Son of God; and that BELIEVING ye might have life through his name.” John 20. 30-31.
As a proof that the rejection of the miracles which Christ wrought for the establishment of his divine character, and the belief that he is the Son of God, is the sin against the Holy Ghost; I adduce his own exposition of that sin, and hope that my reader will, with a solemnity, and impartiality of mind which become a subject of so awful a nature, attend to it-"And the Scribes which came down from Je. rusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.” (Matthew, in relating the same circumstance, says that there was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb; and he healed him in so much that the blind and dụmb both spake and saw. Matth. 12. 22.) “And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?”. After having, by a most forcible, plain, and unanswerable course of reasoning, demonstrated the impossibility of his having cast out devils by the prince of devils; and having observed, as recorded by Matthew, “but if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you,” Matth. 12. 28, he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewithsoever they shall blaspheme; but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation; BECAUSE THEY SAID HE HATH AN UNCLEAN SPIRIT." Mark 3. 224-30.
It matters not by what means the evidence by which Jesus Christ claims the belief in the minds of men, that he is the Son of God, and Saviour of the world, is rejected, or despised; whether by the miracles he wrought being attributed to Beelzebub, or excluded as having been either not: designed for, or incompetent to, produce the belief of his, proper divine character when explained by the words of the Spirit, the consequence is the same--it is the sin against the Holy Ghost; and if not repented of, and the Saviour received as he is offered in the written Gospel, must doom the soul to hell
. It was by the Spirit of God that Jesus Christ wrought all his miracles; and these, when explained
in the words of the Spirit, who only knoweth the things of God, and by that explanation applied to prove his divine character, is the evidence which the Holy Ghost hath given that he is the Son of God, and Saviour of the world. This evidence is still the same, and is intended to impart the same knowledge, and to produce the belief of the same truth; for, as I have so often repeated, "these signs (said John) are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” &c.
To draw the attention of the candid reader, in a very particular manner, and to excite to serious reflection, the minds of some whom Imuch love for their sincerity, and apparent conscientiousness in the cause of Jesus Christ, but who, I am assured, are wrong in their opinions, and explanations of the word of God; I would, with an ardent importunity, and a palpitating concern for the prosperity of the Gospel, and the interests which immortal souls have in the belief of it, ask, By what means any sect, or denomination of christians, can reconcile it to themselves to exclude devout, and orderly members from their church, and communion, for professing to believe in the divine Saviour by those evidences which he gave, during his personal ministry upon earth by the Holy Ghost, which are the only proof he ever urged or relied upon for the faith of any person—and which, being rejected as incompetent or incredible, constituted the sin against the Holy Ghost? the same 'evidence, too, which the Holy Spirit of Truth has expressly informed us in his record, is written, that we might believe, and that believing we might have life through the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God! which is the only FORM of evidence, too, by which faith can be produced (genuine faith, I mean,) since miracles ceased, formed, and circumstanced as the human mind is, with respect to spiritual, invisible, and divine things
If the Gospel ever has been infested with an error, which, on account of its magnitude, stands pre-eminently distinguished from all others, since the days of the Apostles, this is that error! It has wounded the Saviour in the house of his friends; it crucifies the Son of God afresh, and puts him to open shame. It made its way into the church by the teachers of christianity, substituting for the miraculous operations of the Spirit, and his inspirations, and revelations by words, which are written, Secret operations, to supply their place. But to avoid the explosion of the scriptures entirely, (which, by the by, they can. not do, and act consistently,) they have made the word of God a mechanical tool, and the Spirit, in his secret operations, the hand which works with it upon the mind. The word of God, by this mechanical transformation, is so changed, as no longer to be the medium of spiritual intelli. gence, or the instrument of thought upon invisible, and divine things; notwithstanding the mind, in reality, can no more think than speak upon those subjects, without words. Words are as necessarily prior to both thought, and speech upon spiritual things, (being the stipulated signs of ideas, and the means of communicating them,) as causes are to their effects. The mind cannot think upon nothing; and without words on divine subjects, there are no ideas in the mind, and, of course, there can be no spiritual objects of thought in the view of the mind. The word of God, in the Gospel, came from him, through Jesus Christ; it is the mean of intelligence, of thought, reason, knowledge, and faith, in the human mind, upon those divine subjects, about which it is conversant; as it is the rule of conduct in the christian life not of the nature of a mechanical instrument,
The misconceptions, relative to the mechanical use of the word of God in the secret operations, when united with the ideas of the regular succession of spiritual gifts by the imposition of hands, &c. from the Apostles, which is inse. parably connected with it, is the foundation of Popery; as they form the essence of its infallibility. The scriptures were, in consequence of these errors, literally excluded from the hands of the common people by Popery; as they are from their heads, and hearts, by other denominations, through the subversion of their suitableness for imparting spiritual knowledge, and producing the faith of the Gospel by the evidence which they contain. Erroneous theories, and doctrines, are necessarily productive of injurious practical results, and in nothing more manifest than in the christian religion.